Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Keane makes an unexpected but welcome return to the team and gets straight back to scoring ways in a tight draw
Los Casteneros (2) 4
Los Británicos (2) 4
Verenka, Borque, Keane 2
Parque Ebro 17/03/19 20:00
Cabañero, Rooney, Ferns, Pernas, Borque, Kinsella, Morris, Verenka, Keane, Wells, Gilman
In one of the best squad turn outs of the year, the Exiles lined up to take on the team that had seen a pulsating 6-6 draw in the last meeting. Gilman had passed himself available to play but the team expressed grave concerns about him playing contact sport as his first major exercise after surgery but otherwise the Brits had a wealth of options to pick from, in fact only three of the squad were not present for the match. One of the biggest pieces of news was the return of the talismanic Number 10 Keane.
The Brits started well, the major threat from the opposition coming from their own number ten, but Rooney seemed capable of limiting him to pot shots from distance. Up front the movement looked good and the game quickly settled into a rhythm and flow with both teams moving nimbly and with purpose.
It was a little after ten minutes that saw the Brits take the lead through a wonderfully worked team goal. A passing move that built from the back, opening the play before finding Verenka on the right side of the box who drilled the ball home.
The Brits were pegged back through a degree of bad luck. The opposition number ten finding some space, Wells came to meet him but left a man behind him. The ball was played to the open man whose shot was blocked by the impressive Cabiñero only for the rebound to ricochet off Wells into the net.
It was against the run of play that almost immediately afterwards Casteneros snatched the lead and the Brits were rocked. Pulling htemselves up off the deck once more, they pushed forward and from a freekick Pernas slotted home the equalizer, only to be disallowed for a dubious offside. Yet, they channeled their aggression and found their back bone once more to wrestle the game back into the balance. A quick ball out from Cabiñero was flicked on by Morris to Borque to finish with a cool head at the near post.
At halftime the feeling was to keep playing as they were and they would carve out more chances but the second half had a strange feel to it. Prolonged possession for both teams in the midfield with effective deadlock, neither team able to break through the respective defence. It was an uncharacteristic error from Cabiñero on a free kick that gave the lead back to the Casteneros. The Brits felt aggrieved at the decision to give the freekick and over the rest of the half referee decisions started to frustrate the Exiles.
Trailing once more, the Brits started to play with more urgency and movement, starting to open up the opposition. Morris was unlucky twice not to have put the Brits back in the game, but it cam down to Keane to announce his return to the league with a thunderous effort from outside the box that left the keeper flailing and drew the game level. This spurred the Anglophiles on and the momentum started to turn their way. Los Casteneros started to feel frustrated and passing went awry, nerves got frayed. As it seemed the Brits would go on to take the points an outrageous moment put the opposition back in front. Their powerhouse number ten wrestled free of Rooney and controlled the ball with his hand to round ferns and slot the ball home. The defenders were outraged and uncharacteristically so, remonstrating for some time with the ref to no avail.
The time was rapidly slipping away when the Brits had a long throw from Morris find Keane unmarked to head home with no mistake. The old routine and partnership had clicked back into place without skipping a beat. Having pulled themselves from behind twice was a solid effort. On the balance of things, the Brits are probably a better team overall, but did not do enough to take the three points in this match, a draw was probably a fair result even if one goal was clearly a result of a hand ball, one an own goal and one a keeper error.
Both teams congratulated each other on a hard fought game played in good spirit and the Brits missed out a chance to leap frog their opponents in the league.
Special mention will have to go to Ross for accepting his role on the touchline with good grace and for Viivii for constantly ensuring Merrick turns out with dazzling white socks despite the weekly heavy flow of crimson splashed all over them.
Thanks to our sponsors Gallagher Irish Tavern and Liberty English School for your continuing support.